A weight distribution hitch is a system installed between your tow vehicle and your trailer designed to keep your vehicle and trailer level during towing. This creates a more stable ride and reduces strain on your tow vehicle.
When you add a load to a trailer, the majority of the weight of the load is carried by the axles. However, some of the weight is carried by the tongue and is thus transferred to the tow vehicle. The amount of weight that is on the tongue is important, as having too little or too much can create an unsafe condition. If there is too little weight, the trailer can easily get out of control and swing from side to side (sway). If there is too much weight, it can put undue stress on the tow vehicle and cause a failure. The optimal tongue weight of a trailer is 10 to 15 percent of the trailers gross weight. On a normal equipment trailer this can be easily adjusted by repositioning your load. For instance, if you a pulling a trailer with a tractor, the tractor can be moved forward or back. This is much more difficult to accomplish with an RV or tiny home since the amount of weight that can be repositioned is much smaller. In general, it is better to err on the side of having more weight on the tongue since the downsides of this can be mostly overcome by a larger tow vehicle and/or a weight distribution system.
Even if the weight of your trailer is properly distributed, the tongue weight of your trailer can cause the back or your vehicle to sag, resulting in the vehicle and trailer being unlevel. A weight distribution system is engineered to solve this by being put in place while the trailer and vehicle are level (i.e. while the trailer is jacked up) and then using leverage and tension to keep them that way after the jack is retracted.
Sway control, which is often integrated or included as on add-on to weight distribution systems, is a mechanism that helps reduce the sway of your trailer while driving. This is usually accomplished by using friction to keep your trailer centered with your tow vehicle.
Often your vehicles owner’s manual will tell you when you need to use a weight distribution hitch. But given the weight of most tiny houses it is a safe bet to assume one will be required. In fact, for liability reasons most RV dealers will not allow an RV to leave their lot if they are not first connected to a weight distribution system, and as we know, tiny houses weigh more than RV’s. So, if you plan to move your house more than just once or twice in it’s lifetime, and more than just a few miles, we highly recommend the use of a weight distribution system with integrated sway control for your safety and for those around you.
Because of the lower weight of an empty tiny house trailer, a weight distribution system is not required to move one.
There are several different weight distribution manufacturers and systems available, ranging in price from $400 to over $3000. After owning 4 different systems over the years and talking to many experienced RV owners, we have selected the system we recommend and offer based on the following criteria:
For these reasons we have selected the Equal-i-zer Sway Control hitch as the official Tiny Home Builders weight distribution system.